• WordNet 3.6
    • n palimpsest a manuscript (usually written on papyrus or parchment) on which more than one text has been written with the earlier writing incompletely erased and still visible
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n palimpsest păl"ĭmp*sĕst A parchment which has been written upon twice, the first writing having been erased to make place for the second. The erasures of ancient writings were usually carried on in monasteries, to allow the production of ecclesiastical texts, such as copies of church services and lives of the saints. The difficulty of recovering the original text varied with the process used to prepare the parchment for a fresh writing; the original texts on parchments which had been washed with lime-water and dried were easily recovered by a chemical process, but those erased by scraping the parchment and bleaching are difficult to interpret. Most of the manuscripts underlying the palimpsests that have been revived are fragmentary, but some are of great historical value. One Syriac version of the Four Gospels was discovered in 1895 in St. Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai by Mrs. Agnes Smith Lewis. See also the notes below.☞ Palimpsest is the name given to ancient parchments which have been used more than once for writing purposes. The conquest of Egypt by the Saracens in the 7th century cut off from Europe the papyrus which was used to write on, and parchment could be had only in limited quantities. So through the dark ages, old manuscripts were used, after removing the first writing upon them. Sometimes the writing was washed off with a sponge, and the parchment smoothed with pumice stone; at other times the letters were scraped away with a sharp blade. Nearly all ancient manuscripts, however, were written with an ink which could not be entirely removed, and traces of a former writing could be seen beneath the new copy. In modern times there have been various efforts to restore these ancient writings by some chemical treatment. In this way have been found copies of the Republic of Cicero, the Institutes of Gaius, a part of the Epistle to the Romans, and other parts of the Old and New Testaments. The Republic of Cicero was covered by a commentary on the Psalms, written by St. Augustine.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n palimpsest A parchment or other writing-material from which one writing has been erased or rubbed out to make room for another; hence, the new writing or manuscript upon such a parchment.
    • n palimpsest Any inscribed slat, etc., particularly a monumental brass, which has been turned and engraved with new inscriptions and devices on the reverse side.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Palimpsest pal′imp-sest a manuscript which has been written upon twice, the first writing having been rubbed off to make room for the second: an engraved brass plate, with a new inscription on the reverse side.
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  • Russell Hoban
    Russell Hoban
    “Language is an archeological vehicle... the language we speak is a whole palimpsest of human effort and history.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. palimpsestus, Gr. pali`mpshstos scratched or scraped again, pali`mpshston a palimpsest; pa`lin again + psh^n to rub, rub away: cf. F. palimpseste,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Gr. palimpsēstonpalin, again, psēstos, rubbed.


In literature:

I scanned a leaf particularly and saw that it was a palimpsest.
"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Complete" by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
His mirror of vision was silver-clear, a flashing, dazzling palimpsest of imagery.
"Martin Eden" by Jack London
As soon as she was safe from observation, Asie unwrapped the papers with the care of a savant unrolling a palimpsest.
"Scenes from a Courtesan's Life" by Honore de Balzac
You've almost destroyed a young and innocent mind with your infernal palimpsest, Average.
"Average Jones" by Samuel Hopkins Adams
This country is a palimpsest, in which the Bible is written over Herodotus, and the Koran over that.
"Letters from Egypt" by Lucie Duff Gordon
She longed to penetrate below the surface and decipher the strange palimpsest of human life.
"The Daughters of Danaus" by Mona Caird
Particularly in eastern States this page is a palimpsest.
"The Frontier in American History" by Frederick Jackson Turner
The hoof-print of the Turanian "man on horseback" is stamped deep all over the palimpsest of history.
"The New World of Islam" by Lothrop Stoddard
But moonlight brings out all the delicate images of the mind's palimpsest.
"Lippincott's Magazine, Vol. 26, August, 1880" by Various
Such a palimpsest is my brain; such a palimpsest, O reader!
"Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 57, No. 356, June, 1845" by Various

In poetry:

'Neath living palimpsests of Pain;
On shards of deathless song;
hi God's magnificent disdain
Of Might enthroned on Wrong;
"A Keynote [Extract]" by Bernard O Dowd
They did but lure me to unrest,
Unanswered questioning, longings vain,
As when one scans some palimpsest
No erudition can explain;
"The Door Of Humility" by Alfred Austin

In news:

Courtesy of Archimedes Palimpsest Project.
Professor Judson Herrman examines the Archimedes Palimpsest.
OCMA Has a Palimpsest of an Exhibit.
Lot Wallower's Tum-Tum Provides Portable Palimpsest – February 27, 2012.
Professor Judson Herrman examines the Archimedes Palimpsest .
Lot Wallower 's Tum-Tum Provides Portable Palimpsest – February 27, 2012.

In science:

It is also a part of the famous Archimedes palimpsest, transcribed in the tenth century, overwritten in the thirteenth century and discovered in 1906 by Heiberg.
Archimedes' calculations of square roots
The palimpsest is now being studied by means of sophisticated imaging techniques at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, .
Archimedes' calculations of square roots
See here the palimpsest, the math almost cleared, a orthodox liturgy, perhaps St John Chrisostom, wrote above instead.” ”Let me to pass the pages, and here you have, the only known version of Archimedes letter about the Mechanical Method.
Dream of a Christmas lecture